Long Term

2015 Volkswagen GTI: Clicking, beeping, and trying to stay cool [w/video]

Air Conditioning Woes Kick Off A Summer Of Unpleasant Sounds

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  • Engine
    Turbo 2.0L I4
  • Power
    210 HP / 258 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    6-Speed Manual
  • 0-60 Time
    6.5 Seconds (est)
  • Top Speed
    130 MPH
  • Drivetrain
    Front-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    3,031 LBS
  • Seating
  • Cargo
    52.7 CU-FT (max)
  • MPG
    25 City / 34 HWY
  • Base Price
  • As Tested Price
My first car didn't have air conditioning. Well, that's not entirely true. The car had A/C, it just didn't work. Nevertheless, I survived summer after summer of sweating behind the wheel – par for the course in a 15-year-old Mitsubishi with 235,000 miles on the odometer. But it's another thing entirely when that same experience happens in a 2015 Volkswagen GTI after just 7,000 miles of use.

That's how Autoblog kicked off summer with the long-term GTI: sweating in plaid seats. The car went to Suburban Volkswagen in Troy, MI, where the technicians told me the air-con just needed a recharge (despite asking them to inspect it further). They recharged it, the air blew cold, and 48 hours later, the A/C stopped working again. (Surprise!) The problem was a leak in the compressor/condenser line, so a new one was installed, the system was charged, and now it's fixed. For real this time.

Unfortunately, that second-coming happened during a road trip with editor-in-chief Mike Austin at the helm. His logbook comments are, as you'd expect, appropriately salty.

"Everybody loves the GTI, right? Not quite. I drove to Toronto for a weekend. On the way home, the A/C quit working. This wasn't too much of a problem until we hit the border control line to re-enter the United States. I always pick the slow line, somehow. Thusly baked in the heat, with outside temperatures above 80, the GTI didn't cool back down for the rest of the trip. Then I learned we already fixed the A/C once."

"Of course, any car on that day with a surprise A/C failure would earn my ire," Austin notes. "It just seems a little more irritating on a new car. Otherwise, yeah, this is a great car."

A great car, indeed. Everyone loves spending time with the GTI. It's got plenty of power, it's quiet, it's comfortable, and it eats up highway miles. We've got just over 10,000 miles on the odometer as of this writing, and as summer carries on, many editors have requested extended periods of seat time in the GTI for weekend getaways and longer road trips.

But it's still not perfect. Following the A/C fiasco, there's another, more curious problem plaguing the GTI. Every time the car starts, a weird, varied-tempo, loud clicking is heard from the dash. We think it's coming from the direction of the glovebox, and it's not the same click patten every time. Sometimes it's one or two knocks, sometimes it's several. See what I mean in the video below.

Weird, right?

Another trip to Suburban Volkswagen offered no help. Despite the fact that one of the service advisors heard the GTI do its click-click-click thing with me in the car, I'm told they were unable to replicate it after I left. Reaffirming that, when I retrieved the car from the dealer, I started the GTI and it was silent. I tried again; still nothing. But the moment I got back to the office, I turned the car off and back on one more time. The clicking returned. Okay.

We're still investigating this one, so stay tuned for more updates. In the meantime, let's revisit another annoying part of daily life with the GTI: the constant beeping from the park assist system, part of the $695 Driver Assistance Package that we'd be better off without.

Without a backup camera included in the constantly beeping Driver Assistance Pack, you're better off pocketing the $695.

The real problem is that the system comes on at low speeds, and in stop-and-go traffic. You don't have to engage reverse to turn it on. Sit in a traffic jam, and if someone gets too close to your rear, the car will tell you. Try to leave an event and get clogged in parking lot flow, the GTI will freak out. Take it through a car wash, and all hell breaks loose. This is a sore spot with a lot of editors. "More concerning, it beeps intermittently when I am parked, and continues to do so even after I turn the system off," associate editor Pete Bigelow notes. It all works as advertised, just perhaps too well. And without a backup camera included in the constantly beeping Driver Assistance Pack, you're better off pocketing the $695.

We're very happy with other aspects of long-term life with the GTI. Specifically, fuel economy. VW rates the GTI at 25 miles per gallon city and 34 mpg highway, and after 10,217 miles, we're seeing a dead-even 30 miles per gallon. On highway runs, it's easy to see 36 mpg. Considering how much fun the car is to drive, the fuel economy is impressive.

It's a little worrisome to have air conditioning issues and the phantom clicking present with only 10,000 miles on the odometer, but otherwise, the car's been easy to live with. When the GTI was at the dealer for the clicking, the 10K scheduled service was performed – free of charge, as part of VW's carefree maintenance plan.

In the end, the A/C issue and weird clicking are only small blemishes on otherwise happy life with the GTI. It's a great car – fast, comfortable, functional, and efficient. Let's just hope there aren't any more freaky issues to deal with during the next six months.

Volkswagen GTI Information

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